Home Sports French Open:  Djokovic & Carlos Alcaraz to meet in semi-finals

French Open:  Djokovic & Carlos Alcaraz to meet in semi-finals

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Top seed Carlos Alcaraz will face Novak Djokovic in the French Open semi-finals after crushing Stefanos Tsitsipas to set up the highly anticipated clash.

Spain’s Alcaraz, 20, won 6-2 6-1 7-6 (7-5) against the Greek fifth seed.

Serbia’s Djokovic survived a quarter-final scare from Karen Khachanov to keep his bid for a record 23rd men’s Grand Slam singles title alive.

Djokovic, 36, was in danger of falling two sets behind against the Russian but prevailed 4-6 7-6 (7-0) 6-2 6-4.

The third seed could become the first man to win all four majors at least three times.

But if he is going to do that he must come through his toughest test yet when he meets US Open champion Alcaraz in the last four on Friday.

“This match is what everyone wants to watch and it will be a good one to play,” said world number one Alcaraz.

“If you want to be the best you have to beat the best. Djokovic is one of the best in the world and I’m looking forward to it.”

In the absence of the injured Rafael Nadal, Djokovic and Alcaraz have long been considered joint favourites to take the 14-time champion’s crown – what they have showed so far in this tournament strongly suggests that remains the case.

From the moment the French Open draw was made almost a fortnight ago, eyes were drawn to the potential men’s semi-final that many fans had dreamed of seeing.

With Djokovic seeded third after injury issues in the build-up to Roland Garros, the draw pitched him in the same half as the youngster who has replaced him as the world’s leading player.

The unpredictable nature of sport means things do not always pan out as expected, but the fine form of Alcaraz and Djokovic has ensured a blockbuster semi-final in Paris.

Djokovic, who has won five of the past seven majors he has played, and Alcaraz have been two of the standout players on the men’s tour this season.

However, duels between the pair – either head-to-head or even being present in the biggest tournaments – have been rare.

Alcaraz stylishly set up their first meeting at a major by demolishing an opponent who reached the Roland Garros final in 2021.

After breaking for a 2-1 lead in the opening set, the Spaniard moved quickly through the gears and found his top level, leaving 24-year-old Tsitsipas befuddled.

Alcaraz showcased the full range of his mercurial talent, including wondrous returns off both flanks and deft drop-shots, to win the first set in 34 minutes.

Already looking forlorn and needing encouragement from the Chatrier crowd, Tsitsipas lost his serve in the opening game of the next set to love and won just 13 points as Alcaraz moved two sets ahead with little over an hour on the clock.

The third set looked to be following suit. Alcaraz broke at the first opportunity as he surged to a 3-0 lead and looked likely to serve out a one-sided contest before Tsitsipas produced a late rally.

After saving two match points at 5-3, Tsitsipas earned his first break points of the evening and put the set back on serve at 5-5, only for Alcaraz to control the tie-break and reach his first Roland Garros semi-final.

“It wasn’t really that much fun out there in the first two sets. I felt completely off,” Tsitsipas said after the match.

“I just wish it never happens again. It sucks.”

Unrelenting Djokovic outlasts valiant Khachanov

Djokovic had not dropped a set all tournament on the Paris clay but Khachanov provided the test he arguably needed to prepare him for Alcaraz in the last four.

He came into the match having won 29 successive sets in Grand Slams but Khachanov ended that streak in just under an hour on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Having faced seven break points – saving six of them – in losing the opening set, Djokovic tightened up his service game for the majority of the match thereon.

He dominated the second-set tie-break, raced through the third and showed his trademark mental grit to close out the match, winning eight successive points from 4-4 before wrapping up victory with an ace.

“I played the perfect tie-break and from that moment onwards I played a couple of levels higher than I did at the beginning,” Djokovic said after three hours and 43 minutes on court.

“It was a big fight; it’s what you expect in the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam. You are not going to have your victories handed to you and I’m glad to have overcome it today.”


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